Remarks of U.S. Ambassador Jamie L. Harpootlian at the ceremony marking the 77th anniversary of the ski race organized by U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division at Mt. Mangart
June 3, 2022
Mayor Mlekuž, Mr. Anthony, Mr. Kavar, Members of the National Assembly.
In 1941, in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the United States Army recruited mountaineers and students from the top skiing schools throughout the United States to form a division that could fight and win in unforgiving mountainous terrain. They became the 10th Mountain Division. Their motto was “Climb to Glory”. Many of the men who made up this unit were European students, athletes, and immigrants. Their skill and love for the mountains made them a uniquely capable unit. In this, they share a special bond with the people of Slovenia.
From their mutual love of skiing they organized a race held on June 3, 1945. This ski race is emblematic of the only good thing that can come out of war – its peaceful conclusion. After months of horrific fighting, these men were able to share the joys of peace with the community of Bovec. That special feeling has bound us together these last 77 years.
Now, we are grieving with the people of Ukraine as they suffer brutal war crimes under the cruel oppression of a Russian invasion. As this war rages on, we must maintain unity and continue our determined, persistent support for Ukraine as we stand together in defense of our shared values of freedom and human dignity – of liberty, equality, and rule of law. We long to celebrate the end of this senseless conflict, and indeed all conflicts wherever they may exist around the world.
The joy of sport has always been a healthy distraction from the evils of the world. May we remember and be thankful for all those who sacrificed for our freedoms as we celebrate joy and peace today.